Methods of dementia treatment depend on the cause of the symptoms. Primary and secondary dementias are treated differently.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and Other Interventions
Secondary dementia is dementia that is due to an underlying disease or condition. Treating that condition will eliminate or reduce the symptoms of dementia. For instance, thyroid disorders may result in lower levels of thyroid hormones, which in turn cause confusion, memory loss, and other dementia symptoms. In such cases, prescribing a thyroid stimulating hormone reduces the severity of such symptoms.
Other interventions may include:
- vitamin supplements
- hypertension medication
- abstaining from alcohol
- avoiding medication with dementia side-effects
- tranquilizers to treat anxiety
- antidepressants to prevent depression-caused dementia.
Alzheimer’s Treatment: Acetylcholine Medication and Vitamin E Supplements
Treatment methods for primary dementia (dementia due to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example) are intended to stimulate both mind and body, help control or reduce symptoms, and slow disease progression. Treatment for primary dementia is not intended to cure the disease.
For example, three cholinesterase inhibitors are FDA approved for Alzheimer’s treatment. These medications prevent acetylcholine deterioration. Acetylcholine is a chemical in the brain that facilitates memory and thinking ability. By maintaining acetylcholine levels, the medications reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms and may even slow the rate of development of the disease.
Vitamin E supplements may also slow Alzheimer’s progression. Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant and is thought to help defend the brain against the destructive effects of oxygen free radicals. By neutralizing the effects of free radicals, vitamin E may help limit brain tissue deterioration.
Recreation and Exercise
Recreation and exercise should be regularly scheduled for the person with dementia. Recreation helps focus attention and interest, while exercise maintains health. Both exercise and recreation can be social activities, providing opportunities for conversations and practicing language.
Cognitive stimulation group therapy uses recreation to treat dementia. The therapy focuses on daily tasks, or recreation, and provides an opportunity to experience regular social stimulation.
Prevention strategies for dementia vary, and not all prevention strategies have been proven to work. For instance, while a vegetarian diet high in vitamins E and C has been proposed as a prevention method, no evidence has yet supported this claim.
Healthy nutrition will prevent vitamin deficiencies. Coupled with regular exercise, proper nutrition may help prevent dementia. One popular theory for dementia prevention involves keeping the mind active throughout life. Investigation into the prevention aspects of exercise, nutrition, and mental activity is ongoing.
Not smoking is a proven prevention technique: quitting smoking reduces the chances of strokes. Proper headgear worn while biking or during athletic activities reduces the chances of head injury, a possible cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association. (nd). Standard prescriptions for Alzheimer’s.